Version 2.0

Lecture: A pragmatic approach to functional restrictions in reportative evidentials

Some languages, in particular Cuzco Quechua (as reported by Faller, 2002), have available quotative readings for these hearsay evidentials, which specify their semantics into something that glosses as "Someone said: "P"", hence effectively quoting the sayings of another speaker. However, this ambiguity does not apply to every language with grammaticalized hearsay evidentials: in fact, it appears to be rare, reported in only seven languages (Kortokova, 2017). Here, we argue that the explanation for this scarcity may lie at the pragmatics-discourse interface, and in particular in the role of illocutionary force. Illocutionary force refers to the kind of commitment a speaker may hold in regards to their utterance (e.g. belief, doubt, agreement, etc.). In our account, we hypothesize that the marking of quotation could be making the inference that the speaker commits to the quoted proposition more available, as the act of quotation itself is ambiguous in terms of propositional attitudes from the speaker's behalf. Languages with hearsay evidentials should be thus expected to avoid quotative ambiguities, as these pragmatically interfere with the cancelling of speaker commitment that, in fact, motivates the functional specialization of hearsay reportatives over time. Examples from several unrelated languages to illustrate this argument will be discussed.

In the formal semantics literature, there has been a line of fruitful work which
aims to model evidential markers as illocutionary force operators (Faller, 2002, 2006;
Murray, 2006, 2016; Korotkova, 2016). Recently, there have been attempts to formally
describe linguistically diverse, overt evidential markers and accurately derive their
meanings. Among these, quotative readings of hearsay reportative evidentials, most
notably in Cuzco Quechua (Faller, 2002; Korotkova, 2016) have been discussed. These
readings, first observed by Faller (2002), generate what Korotkova (2017;685) calls a
“’someone said’ effect” in the gloss. That is, a canonical interpretation of the hearsay
evidential (glossed in English as “It is said that P”) can be ambiguously interpreted as
quotative (as in a sentence of the form “Someone said: ‘P’”).
It has come under the attention of such authors that the availability of these
readings is strikingly rare cross-linguistically, as, to date, they have been attested in
only seven, mostly unrelated languages (Korotkova, 2017). This posits, at the very
minimum, a typological question: why should this reading unavailability tend to be the
case in natural language? And, conversely, how is it that these readings are nonetheless
possible in some systems?
Here, I argue that the answer could be found in the intersection between
pragmatics and grammaticalization theory. I use data from languages that have been
described as using two quotative strategies in complementary distribution: a lexical one
and a grammaticalized, evidential one (e. g. Nanti, ISO: 639-3, based on Michael’s
(2008, 2012) description). I argue that the existence of such a functional split should be
expected if evidential quotatatives have in fact grammaticalized based on a
specialization and restriction to informational source, with cancelling of speaker
commitment. Direct quotation, especially that which embeds third-party attitudes and
questions, appears to pragmatically habilitate (yet not obligate) a certain level of
commitment from the speaker, that is, a certain illocutionary force in regards to the
proposition under the scope of the quotative. The speaker, by the very illocutionary act
of reporting third-party sayings, is indeed also performing a secondhand illocutionary
act from but also for a determinate third-party via this embedding.
I hypothesize that the grammaticalization of full-fledged evidential quotatives is
rooted in a need for encoding cancellation of such pragmatically available illocutionary
force embeddings (a concept posited by Krifka, 2014). If this is the case, then it should
be predicted that, in a system with grammaticalized and non-grammaticalized quotative
strategies, the latter (but not the former) do allow illocutionary force conveyed act of
third-party quotation. This allows us to formulate and explain a typology of evidentials
based on speaker commitment, and also explain why a dual derivation of both hearsay
and quotative readings from a same construction should be scarce yet possible across


Day: 2021-05-08
Start time: 10:45
Duration: 00:30
Room: Audimax
Track: Semantics & Pragmatics
Language: en



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